ATK Mohun Bagan parts ways with Antonio Habas

ATK Mohun Bagan announced that Antonio Habas has left the role of head coach by mutual consent.

Antonio Habas

Antonio Habas led ATK Mohun Bagan to a second-place finish in the ISL group stage and to the final, where it lost to Mumbai City FC.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

Antonio Habas, who is the only manager in the Indian Super League (ISL) to have won two titles, has parted ways with ATK Mohun Bagan. Sources close to the developments indicated that the Spaniard made the decision on Friday evening. His assistant Manuel Cascallana will be the interim coach.

ATK Mohun Bagan is currently sixth in the ISL table. The side got off to a cracking start with two successive victories but has been winless in its last four games. The Mariners suffered a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Mumbai City FC, to whom they lost the League Shield and the ISL title last season, and were then outdone by Jamshedpur FC.

Habas' side managed to earn nervy draws against Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC, but the performances have been below-par this time around. ATK Mohun Bagan's string of poor results come a little over two months after the club's 6-0 loss to FC Nasaf in the inter-zonal semi-final of the AFC Cup.  

He had lamented after the 3-3 draw with Bengaluru FC, saying that his side needed to find its identity again. "We are in a bad moment. The match was horrible. We lost our identity. We had to recover immediately to have a chance to play in the playoffs and the players had to know that. If we don't recover our identity the proposal of the play is impossible," he had said.

Habas' sides are notorious for their watertight defences and ability to kill the game despite not being known for their goal-scoring prowess. It was this system of play that saw the club taste success in the League, but it also saw the side struggle against high-intensity sides like Mumbai City last season.

However, the club seemed to have lost its defensive solidity this season and made the switch to a more attacking form of play. The side boasts one of the most potent attacks in the League this year featuring the likes of Roy Krishna, Hugo Boumous, Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco and Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko, but its defence has been found wanting. ATK Mohun Bagan conceded only 15 goals all of last season but has already let in 13 goals in six matches. The fact that Sandesh Jhingan moved to Siberian club HNK Sibenik and Tiri's injury in the opening few games compounded Habas' worries.

Talking about his side's defensive troubles this season, he had said, "It’s never the same. Last season was last season. This season we have different players. The opposition has changed. We have to improve this season and forget the last."

Habas leaves the ISL as the most successful manager in its history. The 64-year-old had led the erstwhile Atletico de Kolkata to the title in the inaugural edition in 2014 and led the club to the semifinal the next season. He then coached the now-defunct Pune City side before joining ATK in 2019. He made an instant impact with the Kolkata club once again as he steered the club to the title. He was named as the ATK Mohun Bagan coach last season and his side came agonisingly close to the title, losing the final to Mumbai City FC.

ATK Mohun Bagan will next take on NorthEast United FC on Tuesday.  

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